How to Shoot Wildlife Photography from a Kayak

Harmony Cardenas

How to Shoot Wildlife Photography from a Kayak

Recommendations and Tricks for Capturing Bald Eagles and Better About Channel Islands Nationwide Park

By Chuck Graham | June 9, 2022

CAPTURING CAVES & CREATURES:  Character operates on its possess plan, so all those wanting to get photos from the seat of their kayaks should really constantly be ready for the shot, whether it’s cruising by means of sea caves of Santa Cruz Island or capturing bald eagles on a cliffside. || Credit rating: Chuck Graham

As two seafaring bald eagles perched 50 ft over me on Santa Cruz Island, I battled with a persistent 15 mph northwest wind although making an attempt to maintain place in my kayak. I was seeking for a appropriate composition versus the honeycombed cliffs to photograph this majestic keystone species of the Channel Islands Nationwide Park.

Making use of a rudder stroke in a sit-on-top rated kayak, I glided atop a cover of giant bladder kelp and designed like a sea otter to simplicity into situation. I swung my right leg into the water and wrapped my leg in kelp, that normal anchor affording me the photo prospect I was wanting for beneath the sheer, volcanic, wave-battered cliffs. It was a one of a kind backdrop only attained from the seat of a kayak.

The dense canopy of kelp also pressured the wind to lie down, thwarting any sea spray from coating my digital camera and 300 mm picture-stabilizing lens. It also authorized me to regular my kayak and restrict any camera shake as I photographed the two raptors just before they flew off to capture yet another fish or antagonize the close by western gulls still again.

Credit rating: Chuck Graham

Images from a kayak provides a one of a kind, on-the-drinking water viewpoint that you just can’t achieve on foot or in the air. On the other hand, it is a continuous game of chess gauging wind, swell, and recent when using these all-natural components to your gain and trying to get out topics in their indigenous habitat. 

A very good share of my photography is from a sit-on-top kayak, which delivers a lot more adaptability than a closed-deck boat. In a sit-on-best, I can go around the boat freely, even lying down and dealing with ahead to garner that sea-stage standpoint. It also enables me to throw a leg more than possibly aspect of my kayak to constant it when kelp isn’t existing.

Owing to unpredictable sea problems and constant movement, irrespective of whether it is sheet glass or a scene out of The Perfect Storm, shutter speeds are heightened from the kayak, and ISOs selection from 3200 and increased. The image of 1 bald eagle lifting off in entrance of the other on Santa Cruz Island was taken about a month in the past, and was shot at 1/1000 of a second, at F8, and the ISO at 3200.

Credit score: Chuck Graham

For yrs, I have gambled with digicam equipment in a kayak, taking part in Russian roulette when exposing my equipment to the aspects. There is generally that possibility, but over the several years, the rewards have considerably outweighed any possible snafus. I typically hold a dry bag resting in my lap, so my digicam equipment is constantly at the ready. I also hold a T-shirt in the dry bag to wipe down my palms prior to working with my digital camera, as nicely as a leash attaching the paddle to the kayak.

The ocean realm’s occupants are also unpredictable. It is never acknowledged when a northern fur seal, humpback whale, or a rare seabird like a rhinoceros auklet could possibly surface area when I’m paddling throughout the Santa Barbara Channel or, say, close to San Miguel Island. So, the camera is normally on, the lens cap is off, and my longest lens is usually connected. 

Immediately after all, I can constantly set up for a seascape and rapidly change to a broad-angle lens. Wildlife has usually been on its possess schedule, especially in the h2o, so it is most effective to be prepared and anticipate to be surprised from the seat of a kayak.

Read through all of the stories in this year’s Blue & Eco-friendly issue, “From Big Waves to Tall Trees.”

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